VERDE VALLEY - Camp Verde was the only community in the Verde Valley to show an increase over last July in both retail sales tax and total sales tax revenues for the first month of the new fiscal year.
Cottonwood was up in retail sales tax collections for July over the same month last year, but the city was down in total sales taxes collected.
Clarkdale and Jerome were both up in total sales tax for July over last year, but both towns were down in retail sales tax revenue for the month.
Although the first sales tax report for the first month of a new fiscal year cannot point to either positive or negative trends, there are some indications that tourism might be increasing in the Verde Valley.
Lana Tolleson, president and CEO of the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce, is seeing some encouraging signs. "There is a lot of buzz about Cottonwood," she said. "We've had a lot of news coverage lately. There is increased tourism."
She said the buzz isn't just about the wine industry in the area, but the whole area. "I know that Old Town has had a promotion of a "Taste of Historic Old Town.'
"They've done a really good job of marketing," Tolleson said. She pointed out that the Arizona Republic newspaper recently ran an article on Old Town Cottonwood.
She also explained that many of the local business owners are telling their guests about other businesses in the Verde Valley. "There is a lot of cooperative marketing happening," she said.
Tolleson said that promotion for one business, if it brings people into the area, helps everybody. Word is spreading, she said, that people can come to the Verde Valley and have a great experience. People want to get out of the city and do something fun, she said. And those people are pleasantly surprised at what they are seeing here.
Another positive indicator of increasing tourism that Tolleson mentioned is word from Blazin' M Ranch that tour groups are picking up after a period of dropping off somewhat.
Candy Moore, general manager of Quality Inn of Cottonwood, also sees some bright spots in her business. "We were up substantially for June over 2009 and 2010," she said. "The month before that, in May, we were also up over the last two years."
Moore said that the motel's peak months are changing. It used to be that June, July and August were bad months. The best months were from about Valentine's Day through the end of May.
"Now that's changing," she said. "We're starting to see an upward trend," Moore said.